Then they shall know that I am the Lord their God because I sent them into exile among the nations, and then gathered them into their own land. I will leave none of them behind; and I will never again hide my face from them, when I pour out my spirit upon the house of Israel, says the Lord God.
– Ezekiel 39:28-29
The people of God have been exiled in Babylon and the prophet Ezekiel is with them. He warns them of things coming but he is also given this word of hope. Ezekiel shares the word that God will restore the people; the house of Israel. It must have been such a welcome hope; their time in exile was about 70 years.
Exile comes for us in lots of different ways. It may be individual decisions we make that land us in consequences of pain and sorrow. Or it may be deeper and harder to see, like when It comes for families and groups; even nations. We are all eventually connected to one another’s joys and sorrows. When one of us goes into exile (chosen or forced), there are always others who go as well.
When our actions and choices lead us into consequences of pain or sorrow, we know that even there Jesus shows up. In the most difficult of places – this Savior who is not at all foreign to suffering and temptation, this Jesus who knows well our disappointment and anger; he shows up and leads us out of the darkness and into the light. There is a pattern in the stories. It is the pattern of our Creator who allows life to unfold with our full engagement but is always making a path back home.
My life too bears the pattern. Maybe it’s familiar for you as well: walking away from what I know is most true and grounding, to follow fleeting distractions that feel better in a moment but can quickly leave scars behind. And even then, the LORD refuses to leave me damaged and wounded. Instead, the pattern repeats: gathering me up, pieces and parts, and restoring me to wholeness again.
The wounds we experience in life become pillars of strength over time. In seasons of exile we can be certain that the God of hope is making a way for us to get “home”. And more often than not, those seasons of exile are offering us blessings we need right in the middle of the sorrow. Our scars bear the marks of a faithful God; a Creator who never stops gathering and restoring to wholeness that which the LORD brought into being. Whether it is within the hour or day; even when it takes a lifetime. Even when it takes generations.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
– Psalm 139:7-12
Questions to Carry Today
What scars on your body or soul are marks of a faithful God?
What hope is God whispering in your ear today?
What is God restoring in you? In us?
God, for any one of us and all of us that find ourselves in exile, please let your word of hope plant firmly in our minds and spirits today. Thank you for the gift of the resurrected Christ that stands in the middle of exile and restores us to new life!
Together by King and Country
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep,
while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
– Genesis 1:1-3